Mind & Body
Preventing Workout-Related Injuries
1/5/2018 4:09:38 PM
Injury


You’re determined. You’re focused. Now’s the time.

You’re ready to kick off a fitness routine. And, you’re not alone. You’ll join most every other American in making that time-honored New Year’s Resolution to get in shape.  

Making exercise part of a routine is always a good idea. For those who haven’t exercised regularly, though, it’s important to be smart when beginning so that you’re not sidelined with an injury.

"It’s great to be motivated and dedicated and we will encourage you every step of the way, but we will also help you get into your fitness routine smartly, so that you stay motivated and not injured,” explained Suzy Trahan, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist, ACE certified personal trainer, and director of Dynamic Dimensions fitness centers of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. 

Injuries are one of the most common reasons fitness goals get derailed. Sedentary individuals who jump into a fitness routine, going to the gym every day and pushing themselves too hard, are ripe for an injury. 

The good news is that workout injuries are, for the most part, preventable. Keeping a few safety tips in mind will go a long way to keeping you active and exercising instead of nursing an injury and delaying your New Year’s fitness goals. 

Here are some of the most common gym injuries and how to prevent them:

Twisted ankle. A momentary slip while on the treadmill or in a step or Zumba class can result in a painful ankle. "The best way to prevent an ankle injury is to focus on your movements,” said Trahan. "It can happen if you only partially put your foot down on the treadmill or step; this causes the ankle to roll under the weight of your body. Instead, it’s important to firmly plant your whole foot down solidly.”

Shin splints. That sharp pain near the shinbone is a sign of medial tibial stress syndrome, or shin splints. These can occur in people who often run or jump during their workout, if they haven’t properly warmed up, or if they try to do too much too soon. "Overexertion by running or jumping too vigorously can cause pain and it can develop into a stress fracture which makes even walking painful,” Trahan said. "To avoid this, gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your workout if you haven’t been active for the past few months. Sore muscles in the shin are expected if you haven’t been exercising, but constant radiating pain would be more indicative of a potential injury.”

Knee sprain. Pain under the kneecap, known as runner’s knee, is often a result from overexertion. When other muscles that support the weight of the body are weak, the knees take all the stress. It’s important to strengthen the muscles that support the knees -- the hip flexors and quadriceps. "When doing squats, it’s important to ensure your knees are not extending beyond your feet; they should always be in alignment,” said Trahan. "If you’re prone to knee problems, consider low-impact exercises such as the stationery bike or elliptical machine. These will help to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint so that other exercises are more effective and less painful.”

Properly warming up is one of the best ways to prevent injuries. "Warming up is a crucial part of a good fitness routine. It gradually increases your heart rate and loosens your muscles and joints,” she said. "An effective warm up consists of dynamic and rhythmic movements that increase blood flow while encouraging range of motion in all planes of movement. This helps increase flexibility and is another injury-preventive safeguard. Save static stretching for after the workout as this can deactivate muscles and lead to muscular imbalance during your workout. Yoga-type stretches are excellent because they will not deactivate muscles while stretching.” 

In addition to a warmup, starting gradually is another important component of a healthy fitness routine. "We’re very determined in January and it’s easy to jump into the fitness regime too quickly. If you’ve been sedentary for several months, try easing into a routine by working out one or two times a week. Over time, add another day and increase the workout duration,” she said. "Build up gradually.”

Above all, Trahan advises, "Listen to your body. Don’t push yourself to the point of pain.”

The trainers and group instructors at Dynamic Dimensions are certified and degreed, offering expert advice on how to perform various exercises for optimum benefit. "We’ll help ensure you’re in proper alignment, sometimes it’s hard to know that when you’re beginning. You don’t have to guess and hope for the best; we’re here for you,” Trahan said. 

For more information, call Dynamic Dimensions in Sulphur at (337) 527-5459 or in Moss Bluff at (337) 855-7708 or visit dynamicdimensionsfitness.com.
Posted by: Christine Fisher | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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